The Coronavirus, COVID-19 the disease it causes, and other pandemic-related issues were not surprisingly among the top topics that members of the public researched on federal agency websites in 2020, GSA has said.
It said that its latest annual report on search.gov, which is used by about a third of government domains, “highlights the great need for information and resources related to COVID-19, as well as the ongoing needs of people trying to navigate government services. Meeting these needs through stronger and more standardized search will continue to be a priority.”
It said that among the more than 320 million searches across 2,200 sites, some 5.7 million involved health impacts of covid while 9.6 million involved only covid or other topics related to it such as loans and unemployment benefits.
Loans—student loans, home loans and others—were the most-searched topic, followed by benefits, space, immigration, forms and the Census. Among specific topics, queries about loan forgiveness increased by five-fold, while the Trusted Traveler Programs for example saw a 90 percent decrease compared to 2019 and queries related to finding government offices dropped by half.
It also noted for example that a quarter of searches for forms used only that word. “This shows that, regardless of agency, a significant portion of the public doesn’t know what form they may need, or if they do, they’re not asking for it specifically and are likely to run into challenges in locating the correct form,” it said.
“One important lesson here is for agency web teams: How can we improve digital services to ensure people arrive at the right form or service to fit their needs?” it said.